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Following on from the successful delivery of the Airport Railway in 1998, MTR Corporation's major project activity is now concentrated on the construction of the HK$24bn ($3.08bn) Tseung Kwan O extension. This will provide our sixth operational line to serve the planned 520,000 population of Tseung Kwan O new town. Upon opening in late 2002 the initial build of five stations plus a major depot will serve a rapidly growing resident population of 340,000. A sixth station at the railway maintenance depot in Tseung Kwan O South will follow in 2004 to meet the transport requirements of the 55,000 residents that will move into the MTR property development above and adjacent to the depot.

Through providing a safe, fast and reliable service to link Tseung Kwan O to the MTR urban network in Kowloon and on Hong Kong Island the extension is expected to generate over 200,000 extra passengers in the MTR system each weekday in 2003, rising to more than 750,000 in 2011. The extension will play a key role in East Kowloon development as it not only serves the new communities in Tseung Kwan O New Town but has also triggered extensive redevelopment in the Yau Tong area. The extension will also contribute a major step forward in the provision of environmentally friendly transport to tackle Hong Kong's deteriorating air quality.

Construction commenced in November 1998, all railway contracts have now been awarded and the coming year will see the peak of civil engineering construction. The 48 month construction and commissioning programme is tight for the predominantly underground railway, but consistent with MTR's historical achievements.

Building on our recent experience on the prestigious Airport Railway the challenge for our in-house project management and construction supervision team, together with our design consultants and contractors, is to achieve substantial improvements in project delivery.

Early definition and fixing of the client brief, mobilisation of design teams in a common project office, consultancy appointments selected on technical merit and adequate fees, and the introduction of non-contractural partnering initiatives with the active support of our contractors are aspects of our initiatives to enhance delivery to the benefit of all parties.

We are encouraged by the results achieved to date.

We know that responsible project management must address not only success in design and construction but also establish and retain the confidence of the community within which the construction is taking place.

A very detailed environmental management system is being operated to carefully plan and manage those major works which pass through very dense high rise residential communities. Regular community liaison and school visits effectively deliver a good local understanding of the work in hand and planned.

Fortunately Hong Kong people have an excellent understanding of the benefits that the railway will bring upon completion and MTR enjoys a substantial degree of community goodwill.

Our project has started well, almost all piling and diaphragm walling work and over 50% of bored tunnel excavation is complete and we are rapidly building up structural concrete activities. We are directing much effort into raising the awareness and improving the personal performance of all personnel on the project in the certain knowledge that this is the most fertile area in project delivery to generate quality, lower costs and improve profitability for all concerned. I hope that the following articles reflect this focus on continuous improvement.

At MTR we are in a very competitive business in the Hong Kong transport market. It is no longer sufficient to complete on time and within budget, the challenge is also to deliver ongoing improvements in whole life cost in our railway infrastructure.

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